Bass In Your Face

Red Rocks 8.2 (D.Vann)

Red Rocks 8.2 (D.Vann)

While Trey was busy fulfilling a dream on Saturday night in New York City, Mike was on the road living his own, as a band leader of his own group, playing his own music.  And only five shows into his “Get Bassed” tour, Gordeaux is doing just that.  Mixing eclectic originals with an an array of diverse covers, Mike is at the forefront of percussive, bass-led jaunts largely rooted in the tradition of Americana rock.

Combining his signature, chunky bass lines with Scott Murawski’s southern-tinged melodies and layers of percussion, Mike’s band has delivered upbeat jams that are most often rhythmically focused.  The most popular songs from The Green Sparrow- “Another Door,” Andelmans’ Yard,” “Sound,” and “Traveled Too Far”- have become anchors of Mike’s sets while many other originals have been worked in.  Aside from his own songs, Mike has featured a wide spectrum of covers in the first week of tour.  Giving musical nods to Coldplay, Radiohead, Desmond Dekker, The Allman Brothers, Deee-Lite, The Beatles, Lynyrd Skynyrd and Leonard Cohen, Mike has embraced musical diversity, both old and new.  In addition, the band has played originals penned by three other group members.

getbassedWhile Trey’s side-projects are, most-often, directly related to Phish’s musical future, Mike’s have been an opportunity to distance himself from his other band.  With Leo Kottke, The Duo, and now The Mike Gordon Band, he has taken advantage of his opportunities to broaden his horizons with musical experimentation unrelated to Phish.  But never forgetting what got him there, he always seems reference Phish songs; this past week working”Meat,” “Sugar Shack,” and GRAB’s “Suskind Hotel” into his sets.

With jams heavy on percussive groove and layered improv, The Mike Gordon Band has received rave reviews after “bassing” people for only a week.  To check out what’s been going on, I downloaded Saturday night’s show in Falls Church, VA to see what Mike was up to while Trey played in New York City.  This is what I found.

State Theatre, Falls Church VA

State Theatre, Falls Church VA

Opening the show with his two most recognizable numbers, “Another Door” and “Andelmans’ Yard,” the band spliced improvisational segments into both, creating engaging extensions of these songs’ changes and rhythms.  Very danceable music, it sounded like the energy in room on Saturday night was palpable.  The third song, “Emotional Railroad, scribed by someone Scott Murawski, and sounded a bit more generic with Garcia-esque runs up the fretboard by Murawski and complementary piano leads by Tom Cleary.  There was certain Grateful Dead feel to this one, as Mike included his envelope filter bass-bombs towards the end of the jam, and throughout the night.

Speeding up the tempo and seamlessly segueing into a new original, “Can’t Stand Still,” the band was locked into some fluid and spirited playing.  Communicating proficiently as they dug into the song, this didn’t sound like a band’s first week out on the road.  Their musical comfort with each other was clear as the music pulsated with Mike at the center.

Murawski and Gordon - Seattle '08

Murawski and Gordon - Seattle '08

Before the next selection, “Spiral,” Mike indicated that the band had only played it once and it was “an intentionally trippy song,” though he wasn’t “speaking from experience, just from conjecture.”  Following that sentence up with the absurd Gordonism, “Actually I’m not speaking at all,” they started the song.  As the slow opening unfolded, Mike’s lyrics crept out at the same tempo, creating a very trippy vibe, indeed.  This song sounds like one Phish could (read: should) adopt and interpret masterfully as a layered addition to their catalog.  Drifting into abstract psychedelia, this jam held the distinct feel of Grateful Dead-Phish fusion- some really engaging music.  My favorite piece of this show, I now await the day Phish breaks out “Spiral;” it will be sick.

Falls Church w/ Guenaur (M.Gordon)

9.12 - Falls Church w/ Guenaur (M.Gordon)

Inviting folk-rock guitarist, Reid Genauer, (Assembly of Dust, formerly of Strangefolk) to the stage, the band launched into a cover of the the Allman’s “Ain’t Wasting Time No More.”  Taking the tune for a somewhat generic ride, they eventually broke form with Mike’s pumping bass lines heading the charge as they segued into a textured take on Fatboy Slim’s “La La La.”  Check out the basscrabatics on this one, as Mike got straight silly.

Genauer stepped off stage and the band returned to Gordon’s music with “Sound.”  A song that embodies Mike’s emerging writing style- with melodies featured as prominently as his unique rhythmic concepts- in the vein of “Another Door” and “Andelmans’ Yard,” “Sound” is a favorite off The Green Sparrow.  A bass intro gave way to a soft, blooming arrangement that likened a comfortable musical swaddle.  Cleary’s piano leads lent a jazzy feel to the jam of this very collaborative piece.

Falls Church (M.Gordon)

Falls Church - 9.12 (M.Gordon)

With complex percussion, the band began “Sarala,” an impressive jazz composition written by percussionist, Craig Myers, himself.  Not only is Mike embracing the music of pop-culture and his musical roots, but he is also using his band a as a platform for his lesser-known bandmates to get some of their own music out there.  So far this tour the band has played songs written by all three other band members besides drummer, Todd Isler.

Breaking the music down into a more bluegrass-laced place, the band again transitioned from song to song into another original, “Couch Lady.”  While this is sounds like classic Gordeaux, this was definitely my least favorite piece in the show; but I don’t dig on bluegrass.  A cover of Radiohead’s “15 Steps” came next, illustrating Mike’s risk-taking and willingness to cover one of today’s most prominent acts.  Featuring  heavy bass work and organized cacophony, I wish I could say more in relation to the original, but Radiohead, like bluegrass, really isn’t my bag either.

Falls Church Soundcheck (M.Gordon)

Falls Church Soundcheck (M.Gordon)

Mike clearly has tons of music that no one knows about unless you are hitting up these shows, and he broke out another original to close the set, “Only A Dream.”  One of the longest pieces of the show, the rock composition turned far more interesting once the lyrics fell away, but still fell short of the most engaging pieces of the show.  Honoring the request of “Sugar Shack” for the encore, Gordon played a more bass-led version of his new Phish song before finishing with an inspiring and extended take on the Doobie Brothers’ cover “Takin’ It to the Streets!”  Never a dull moment with Michael Gordon.

Touring with a band of legitimate improvisers, Mike’s shows take on a the contours of dynamic band interplay, creating unique paths nightly.  Rooted in rhythmic textures, getting “bassed” has never felt so good.  Don’t let the lack of media coverage fool you- Mike is a secret agent after-all- the music being churned out by his band is both fresh and exciting, and if you can get your face in front of the bass, I highly recommend checking it out.

Winged music note=====

Jam of the Day:

2001 > Disease” 9.29.99 II


The Pyramid’s enormous “2001” took it to the next level, and its energy spilled right into a blistering “Disease.”



2009.09.12 The Mike Gordon Band, Falls Church, VA < Torrent

2009.09.12 The Mike Gordon Band, Falls Church, VA < Megaup

getbassed-1Another Door, Andelmans’ Yard, Emotional Railroad, Can’t Stand Still, Spiral, Ain’t Wasting Time No More* > La La La*, Sound, Sarala^, Couch Lady, 15 Steps**, Only A Dream

E: Sugar Shack, Taking It To The Streets^^

* Allman Bros cover, Reid Genauer on guitar & vocals, ^ Craig Myers original, **Radiohead cover, ^^ Doobie Bros cover

Source: Schoeps CCM41V’s DINa>Sonosax SX-M2 + B&K 4023’s DIN>Neve Portico 5012 (Silk) HPF@65HZ>Sound Devices 744T @24/48 (Taper – Ned Struzziero)


2009.09.12 Trey and NYP, Carnegie Hall, NY < Torrent

2009.09.12 Trey and NYP, Carnegie Hall, NY < Megaup

9.12.09 (LiveMusicBlog)

9.12 (LiveMusicBlog)

I: First Tube, The Inlaw Josie Wales, Brain & Robert, Divided Sky, Water In the Sky, Pebbles and Marbles, Guyute Orchestral

II: Time Turns Elastic, Let Me Lie, You Enjoy Myself  E: If I Could

NEW Source: SP-TFB-2 > SP-SPSB-10 > MARANTZ-PMD620

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182 Responses to “Bass In Your Face”

  1. whole tour! Says:

    I’m guessing the videos are a direct feed from the video screens. Imagine standing DFC in front of the stage..watching the band in front of you and having 2 video screens on your left and right on either side of the stage. Then factor in the 100,000 people all around you. sensory overload. Not to mention how the stars seemed to zip across the sky everytime you look up at them. Anyone remember the ice pyramid? In “Here comes the sun” there is that one line “i feel as ice is slowly melting”…it was 🙂

  2. fat bastard Says:

    what was the ice pyramid?

  3. sumodie Says:

    No Party Time link posted -don’t think it’s out there either.

  4. whole tour! Says:

    it was this giant pyramid at the back of the field that was made of huge blocks of ice. People were climbing all over it. When i first saw it it was pure white ice…then the nextmorning it was still there but all black looking where people were walking all over it, slipping, tripping over it…ect…

    i can’t take credit for the cypress vids….my buddy superfreakie found the links first.

  5. whole tour! Says:

    anyone ever notice that all the attractions at cypress were related to songs..

    there was the ice pyramid = it’s ice
    there was the glider in the tree = glide
    there was the misissippi delta = ginseng sullivan

    none of those songs were actually played, but represented throughout the festival grounds

  6. fat bastard Says:

    man I don’t remember any of that shit. well I guess I kind of remember the glider but I’m losing it big time….I got a blank space where my mind should be!

  7. whole tour! Says:

    i also remember this trained cat show…this cat would walk across these planks of wood and do jumps and stuff. If you have the spring 2000 schivice…there is a pic of the cat show on the back cover…and i’m in that shot…at least the top of my hat is.

  8. fat bastard Says:

    dude your not only whole tour! your whole scene!

  9. sumodie Says:

    There’s a new mimifishman auction with plenty of signed 2009 Phish tour posters. Hardly anyone has bid thus far, but then starting bids are at least $450. Just in case you’ve got some extra cash to burn for a good cause.

  10. whole tour! Says:


    @ fat b

    we probably camped next to each other at cypress and we both don’t even realize it…small world! Don’t feel bad…i have several blank spaces from that weekend, but wjat i do remember is straight up glorius.

  11. fat bastard Says:

    this 2001 might scare me if I was trippin

  12. whole tour! Says:

    speaking of pyramids…

    the pyramid 99 show in memphish was the BOMB! after new orleans and oak mountain i thought they would have an off night, but they blew that place up on trey’s b-day.

    I think that they decomissioned that venue. It’s now a mega outdoors camping superstore or something.

  13. KWL Says:


    thanks for the link!

  14. fat bastard Says:

    Anyone out there going to Gordon’s show in Chicago should consider going to The Tonic Room the night before. A cool band, “Hack and wheeze” is playing there. The dude on guitar can kill it and it will be a laid back phishy crowd. starts at 10. And before the show go hit on DePaul girls at the bar next store.

  15. whole tour! Says:

    i’ve heard about “hackand wheeze” through the grapevine! My buddy said they are sick!!

  16. Mr. Completely Says:

    party time’s not out there yet. I looked the couple places it would be.

    my mediafire share seems to be back, fwiw


    I’ll put the carnegie hall thing up there for our megaupload-challenged Navy friend as soon as it finishes coming in

  17. Billy Breathes Says:

    hack n wheez is phenominal. saw them years ago MANY times at Griffins (a bar no longer in existence and near the tonic room) in a small, packed bar with high energy.

    they play a TON of phish and other covers from the dead and some allmans.

    but primarily, it was phish, and it was real good.

  18. cottle Says:

    Oh shit, I’d forgotten all about the ice pyramid. I was spun cookies and trying to play king of the mountain on a giant pyramid of ice. I can’t believe no skulls were cracked open on that thing.

  19. Mr. Completely Says:

    @Matthew – here is a link for the Philharmonic

    to be clear – this is the same fileset from the top of today’s page – Matthew can’t reach it due to internet restrictions is all

    how long you at sea for, matthew? when might you be able to catch some shows?

  20. Robear Says:

    Nice JOTD again, Miner! Spacey, ‘dueling feedback loops’ launch the ‘2001’.

  21. stash Says:

    hey y’all,

    haven’t been here in a bit. just wanted to say that i can’t get enough of the try show with the philharmonic. just stunning. so well played. can’t wait to get a copy of it. too bad there was no filming?

  22. Matthew Schwarz Says:

    Mr. C — thanks so much! They’re coming through…it’s amazing that I can be out to sea, seeing nothing but blue, and download music that was performed a couple days ago thousands of miles away!!

    I’m away from home for a little more than 2 months. Even when I get back it’ll be difficult to catch some shows, unless the boys add Fuji Rock Festival to their tour. I’m assigned to Japan.

    Thanks again!

  23. Comrade Says:

    I really enjoyed Gordon at the State Theater!

    Thank you Mr. Miner for upping the show! 🙂

  24. Robear Says:

    Take care out there, Matthew^!
    Enjoy all the new tunes, until you return.

  25. Mr. Completely Says:

    @Matthew yeah that’s pretty amazing. Must make being out for that long a little easier, I guess?

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